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Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed... More
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  • The Keys to Economic Growth

    June 13, 2011

    Recent economic data show that U.S. job growth in May was negligible, while the official unemployment figure-- at least the figure the Labor Department admits to-- rose to 9.1%.  The real unemployment figure, however, as compiled by economist John Williams, may well be higher than 20%.  It is clear the U.S. economy is in terrible shape, and that no amount of government spending or Federal Reserve quantitative easing can reduce unemployment, increase real productivity, or address our debt fiasco.U.S. jobs and productivity are dependent on the accumulation of private capital to finance existing businesses or fund new entrepreneurial activity.  Private capital-- whether accumulated by profitable U.S. businesses, invested by private equity and venture capital firms, or attracted from abroad--  is the key to economic growth and new jobs.  But we cannot create jobs if we demonize profits, punish risk-taking capitalists, and stay hostile to foreign investment.

    The steps to encouraging capital investment and creating new jobs in America are simple, though not easy:

    ·         First and foremost, we must create a sound U.S. currency backed by gold or some other commodity respected by the market.  No nation in history with a rapidly depreciating currency has attracted private capital.  Unless and until we prohibit the Treasury and Federal Reserve from essentially creating money and credit from thin air, we cannot restore the U.S. economy.

    ·         Second, we must create a favorable regulatory environment for U.S. business.  This cannot be stressed enough.  When businesses don’t know what’s coming next from the EPA, when Obamacare spikes their healthcare costs, or when the Dodd-Frank bill adds almost unknowable regulatory compliance burdens, businesses simply will not expand and hire.  It is time to start shrinking the federal register.

    ·         Third, we must stop spending trillions of dollars overseas on foreign wars.  There is no point in debating a foreign policy we cannot afford.  It no longer matters what neoconservatives want.  Our interventionist foreign policy is financed on credit, and our credit limit has been reached. Our economy would be infinitely better off if those trillions of dollars had never been removed from the private economy or added to our debt.

    ·         Finally, we must completely revamp the U.S. tax system and move to a territorial model that does not tax foreign source income.  U.S. corporations are sitting on more than a trillion dollars in foreign earnings that cannot be repatriated to the U.S. because of taxes.  We need an immediate tax holiday to bring those earnings home.  Better yet, we need to abolish the income tax altogether.

    The U.S. economy is in deep trouble.  Congress needs to act immediately to restore the rule of law and create an environment that rewards, rather than punishes, the critical components of any healthy economy: capital accumulation and investment.

    In this struggling economy it is essential for politicians to take a step back and think about what government has been doing to business in this country.  In less than 200 years, the free market, property rights, and respect for the rule of law took this nation from a rough frontier to a global economic superpower. Today, however, our nation and our economy clearly are headed in the wrong direction.

    Of course, America has never enjoyed absolute free-market capitalism: creeping government intrusion and special interest political patronage have existed and increased since our founding.  But America historically has permitted free markets to operate with less government interference than other nations, while showing greater respect for property rights and the rule of law.  Less government, respect for private property, and a relatively stable legal environment allowed America to become the wealthiest nation on earth. 

    By contrast, the poorest nations almost always demonstrate hostility for free markets, private property, and the rule of law.  Capital formation, entrepreneurship, credit, and wealth accumulation are uniformly discouraged in poor countries.  Private contracts are not reliably enforced, and private property is not secure in the hands of owners.  The predictable result is widespread poverty and misery. 

    Jun 19 12:48 AM | Link | 1 Comment
  • Holding the President Accountable on Libya
    June 6, 2011

    Last week, more than 70 days after President Obama sent our military to attack Libya without a congressional declaration of war, the House of Representatives finally voted on two resolutions attempting to rein in the president.  This debate was long overdue, as polls show Americans increasingly are frustrated by congressional inaction. According to a CNN poll last week, 55 percent of the American people believe that Congress, not the president, should have the final authority to decide whether the U.S. should continue its military mission in Libya. Yet for more than 70 days Congress has ignored its constitutional obligations and allowed the president to usurp its authority.

    Finally, Congressman Dennis Kucinich was able to bring to the floor a resolution asserting that proper constitutional war power authority resides with Congress. His resolution simply stated that "Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution."

    Opponents of the withdrawal resolution said the 15 day deadline was too abrupt. But as I pointed out during debate, the president attacked Libya abruptly – he didn't even bother to consult Congress – so why can't he order an end to military action just as abruptly? When members of Congress took an oath of office to defend the Constitution, we did not pledge to defend it only gradually, a little bit at a time. On the contrary, we must defend it vigorously and completely from the moment we take that oath. I was pleased that 87 Republicans were able to put the Constitution first and support this resolution.

    House Speaker John Boehner offered his own resolution on the same day, which declared that Congress would not support the insertion of US ground troops into Libya. Although this unfortunately was far from adequate to satisfy our constitutional obligations, it certainly was a step in the right direction and I am pleased that it passed in the House.  Just days before Speaker Boehner's resolution, an amendment to the defense authorization act prohibited the president from using any funds in the bill to insert US troops into Libya. A separate amendment last week prohibiting any funds appropriated to the Department of Homeland Security from being used to attack Libya came within just a handful of votes from passing.  All of these votes demonstrate that members of Congress increasingly understand that our foreign wars are deeply unpopular with their constituents.  We are broke, and the American people know it.  They expect Congress to focus on fixing America's economic problems, rather than rubber stamping yet another open-ended military intervention in Libya.

    I believe these resolutions and amendments indicate that the tide is turning in the right direction.  I am confident we will see Congress move toward ending our unconstitutional wars.  The American people are demanding no less.  The president's attack on Libya was unconstitutional and thus unlawful.  This policy must be reversed.

    Jun 19 12:47 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Enabling a Future American Dictator
    May 30, 2011

    These are truly troubling days for liberty in the United States.
     

    Last week the 60 day deadline for the president to gain congressional approval for our military engagement in Libya under the War Powers Resolution came and went. The media scarcely noticed.  The bombings continued.  We had a hearing on Capitol Hill on the subject, but the administration refuses to bother with the legality of its new war.  It is unclear if Mr. Obama will ever obtain congressional consent, and astonishingly it is being argued that he doesn't need it.


    Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution begs to differ.  It clearly states that the power to declare war rests within the legislative branch - the branch closest to the people.  The founders were a war-weary people, and the requirement that it would take an act of Congress to go to war was intentional.  They believed war was not to be entered into lightly, so they resisted granting such decision making authority to one person. They objected to absolute warmaking power granted to Kings. It would be incredibly naïve to think a dictator could not or would not wrest power in this country. 

    Our Presidents can now, on their own: order assassinations, including American citizens; operate secret military tribunals; engage in torture; enforce indefinite imprisonment without due process; order searches and seizures without proper warrants, gutting the 4th Amendment; ignore the 60 day rule for reporting to the Congress the nature of any military operations as required by the War Power Resolution; continue the Patriot Act abuses without oversight; wage war at will; and treat all Americans as suspected terrorists at airports with TSA groping and nude x-rays. 

    Americans who are not alarmed by all of this are either not paying close attention, or are too trusting of current government officials to be concerned.  Those in power right now might be trustworthy, upstanding people.  But what of the leaders of the future?  They will inherit all the additional powers we cede to the current position holders.  Can we trust that they will not take advantage?  Today's best intentions create loopholes and opportunities for tomorrow's tyrants.

    Perhaps the most troubling power grab of late is the mission creep associated with the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Initiated as targeted strikes against the perpetrators of 9/11, a decade later we are still at war.  With whom?  Last week Congress passed a Defense Authorization bill with some very disturbing language that explicitly extends the president's war powers to just about anybody.  Section 1034 of that bill states that we are at war with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and associated forces.  Who are the associated forces?  It also includes anyone who has supported hostilities in aid of an organization that substantially supports these associated forces.  This authorization is not limited by geography, and it has no sunset provision.  It doesn't matter if these associated forces are American citizens.  Your constitutional rights no longer apply when the United States is "at war" with you.  Would it be so hard for someone in the government to target a political enemy and connect them to al Qaeda, however tenuously, and have them declared an associated force?
     
    My colleague Congressman Justin Amash spearheaded an effort to have this troubling language removed, but unfortunately it failed by a vote of 234 to 187.  It is unfortunate indeed, that so many in Congress accept unlimited warmaking authority in the hands of the executive branch.

    Jun 19 12:46 AM | Link | Comment!
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